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Mesothelioma Patients May Benefit From Use of Painkiller That Shows Ability to Fight Cancer

PainkillersLast week MesotheliomaCounsel reported on the potential cancer-fighting benefits of aspirin. Now, researchers report that another painkiller, used to treat migraines and arthritis, has “significant anti-cancer properties.” The drug, that can also boost the immune system, may offer mesothelioma patients another option for treatment.

In a Jan. 11 press release from the AntiCancer Fund, an international foundation dedicated to expanding the range of treatment options available to patients, and collaborator of the study, the organization reports that the widely available, low-cost non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), diclofenac, “is a drug with huge potential to treat cancer, especially when given in the perioperative period.”

Common brand names for diclofenac include Voltaren, Voltarol, Cataflam, Cambia, Zipsor and Zorvolex.

“It’s still somewhat surprising that there is still so much we don’t understand about how many of the standard drugs we use every day, like diclofenac, work,” says study author Pan Pantziarka, PhD, member of the ReDO project and the Anticancer Fund, in the press release. “But the more we learn, the more we can see that these drugs are multi-targeted agents with interesting and useful effects on multiple pathways of interest in oncology.”

According to the researchers from Belgium and the U.S., review of  medical records for cancer patients who were treated with diclofenac prior to undergoing tumor removal surgery found the drug “had a statistically significant impact on the risk of metastasis and reduced mortality.”

The authors report that diclofenac may be especially effective in preventing post-surgery metastasis. Halting the recurrence of cancer and the spread of the disease to other organs is critical for ensuring longer survival in cancer patients. According to various studies, metastasis is the cause of nearly 90 percent of cancer deaths.

Mesothelioma, an incurable, asbestos-caused cancer with few treatment options, has a high recurrence rate. Stopping tumor growth and preventing metastasis is especially critical for mesothelioma where the disease is highly aggressive. Nearly 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with the cancer each year.

Mesothelioma patients treated with immunotherapy drugs that boost the natural defense mechanism of the body have had good results. See “Merck’s Drug Keytruda Shows ‘Encouraging’ Results in Mesothelioma Clinical Trial” for information about mesothelioma patients who have used Keytruda, an immunotherapy drug from Merck.

The findings by the authors were convincing enough for them to conclude that the drug is “a strong candidate for repurposing as an oncological treatment, both in combination with existing standard of care treatments or in a cocktail with other repurposed drugs.”

The Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO) project, an international collaboration between the Anticancer Fund, Belgium, and US-based GlobalCures, finds that existing and widely-used non-cancer drugs may represent a relatively untapped source of novel therapies for cancer.

The study, Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO)—diclofenac as an anti-cancer agent, can be found in the Nov. 1, 2015 issue of ecancermedicalscience journal.

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Nancy Meredith is a blog and web content writer with more than 20 years of professional experience in the Information Technology industry. She has been writing about Mesothelioma for 7 years. Follow Nancy on Google+

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